Feb 10 2012

Goodbye world! Or dammit I didn’t think I would be starting a blog like this…

Published by michel at 3:10 pm under Journal

Ahhh the classic Hello World post.

Since last Sunday when I fully ruptured my Achille’s tendon in a stupid downhill skiing fall, the first spill I’ve taken in 10 years, it rather feels like “Goodbye World”.

No pop, no excruciating pain. I thought it was just another sprain when I went to stand up again… made it down to the bottom of the hill on my other leg, up the chair, then down the bottom of the other side of the mountain in the gondola.

Called my father to give me a ride back home, 1km away from the hill, as I didn’t want to drive…

Took off my ski boot, my dad, who is a retired orthopedic surgeon, took one look at it and said “Sh.t!” (well its french equivalent anyway)… he knew right away… but I think he didn’t want to alarm me and maybe was trying to convince himself that it wasn’t fully ruptured, so he keep looking for my AT.

Called a friend who is a radiologist, and had an MRI on Monday - full rupture, some other tendons in bad shape also…  mildly depressing.

Saw the surgeon on Tuesday. Confirmed that best approach is to operate.

Operation is scheduled for sometime this weekend. I’m just waiting for the hospital to call and let me know when to go.

I’m lucky I guess, as the surgeon who will perform the operation is also responsible for the Quebec Ski Team, and my father is a retired orthopedic surgeon so I’ll have lots of support.

But man I’m still crying thinking of the long road ahead… ski season is kaput, and the cycling season will probably take a big hit also…

Wish me luck.

4 Responses to “Goodbye world! Or dammit I didn’t think I would be starting a blog like this…”

  1. normofthenorthon 12 Feb 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Welcome to the club you never wanted to join, Michel — and from another Canadian downhill skier, too. Many of us ski, but very few of us have torn our ATs while skiing — mikek753 from California is the only one I can think of offhand. He ended up skipping the surgery (after about a week of difficult head-scratching), mostly based on a new Canadian study that showed minimal benefits, with a fast rehab protocol. That “UWO” (here in Ontario we call that university “Western”) study is posted on this site, with a link to its excellent protocol. I’ve posted that protocol at bit.ly/UWOProtocol in a slightly different format (the way the authors faxed it to my surgeon, pre-publication).

    Their surgical vs. non-op results are of no use to you, but their fast rehab protocol is worth keeping in mind, either as a road map or as a “second opinion” in case your Doc or your Dad want you to go slower.

    Were you skiing the North side of Mt. Tremblant when you did it? Your description sounds like that. I think I’ve taken a few nice tumbles on Expo and Kossak there. . . (How do you go 10 years without falling?!? Are you sure you’re skiing enough?)

  2. michelon 12 Feb 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Hi Norm, thanks (I think) for the welcome :)

    It was just a stupid spill in the Griffe. I’m used to skiing on GS skis and was persuaded to try a detuned GS this winter… too much sidecut on these things. It was my third day on them, and I was still considering taking them back. There was just something I didn’t like in the feeling I was having on these things. they were 183cm, but turned like 168cm!!!

    Thanks for the link - I’ll take a look. The intern who was at the clinic when I went to see the doc told me about the studies and not going the surgical route. For me it was a no brainer - minimal risks to the surgery, being so close to the skin, and having a stronger tendon afterward was a must, as I’m still young and do a lot of skiing, cycling, sailing, etc…

    As for this being my first fall in 10 years - what can I say? I don’t take risks, and am a strong skier… guess I had been lucky before, or maybe I am getting older and have to learn to slow down… well, I’m pretty slow *now*… this was my 17th day on the slopes this winter (went sailing down south for a couple of weeks at Christmas), and I average around 40 days a year usually, so it’s not because I was out of practice or shape :) :(

  3. normofthenorthon 13 Feb 2012 at 2:09 am

    Wow. I’ve definitely made it through a week without falling, but maybe never two weeks. 40d/yr x 10 yrs is a LONG time without a fall!! OTOH, when you fall, you REALLY fall. . . :-(

    I’ve long been amazed how differently different skis perform. Once when I was getting tired of my own skis, I demo’d 16 different models (& sizes) of skis during a Whistler week, before buying a pair! I wish I could demo boots, too, since they make an equally huge difference. . .

    I’ve “fixed” one ATR with surgery, and the next without. My own post-recovery calf strength was/is much higher from the first one, though the second recovery was a fast painless breeze compared to the first. The careful big studies (like UWO) show much closer strength results than my personal experience, there’s a lot of semi-random variation, I think. More details on my blog if you care.

    “Stronger tendon afterwards” isn’t a concern, since virtually any post-recovery AT is plenty strong — strong enough not to rupture, which means it’s stronger than “new”! The big variables are re-rupture risks/rates (which used to be way high with slow non-op casting) and CALF strength, which is often linked with ROM, the third key variable. My left calf (ATR #2) is way stronger than I need for cycling, running, sailing, skiing, and even competitive volleyball (beach and court), but it’s still not quite up to a series of full-height 1-leg straight-kneed heel raises. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well I can spike and block in volleyball withOUT being able to pass that simple strength test with my dominant leg, but that’s how it’s gone for me. On average (e.g. in the UWO study, at achillesblog.com/files/2008/03/jbjsi01401v1.pdf) the calf-strength difference between the two treatments is pretty tiny, and too small to be statistically significant, and (with my recent experience) I can’t believe it would matter to an athlete in any normal sport.

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